Ukraine Latest: US Military Aid to Kyiv Approaching $11 Billion

Ukraine Latest: US Military Aid to Kyiv Approaching $11 Billion

20 Aug    Finance News, Physics

The latest tranche of military aid to Ukraine, announced Friday, sees total US commitments reach $10.9 billion. The new offer includes additional HIMARS rocket systems, which have been credited with helping Kyiv slow Moscow’s advance over the summer.

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(Bloomberg) —

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The latest tranche of military aid to Ukraine, announced Friday, sees total US commitments reach $10.9 billion. The new offer includes additional HIMARS rocket systems, which have been credited with helping Kyiv slow Moscow’s advance over the summer. 

Russia’s invasion is at a near-operational standstill, with neither side currently able to launch an offensive that would materially affect the course of the conflict, Western officials said. The war, dubbed a “special operation” by Moscow, hits the six-month mark on Aug. 24. 

Gazprom said it will stop delivering natural gas to Europe through its main pipeline for three days to perform maintenance, further squeezing energy supplies just as Germany and others are trying to build up stocks for the winter. European benchmark futures soared as much as 9%.

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(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • Gazprom to Shut Pipeline for Three Days in New Shock to Europe
  • Putin’s War in Ukraine at a Standstill, Western Officials Say
  • Pentagon Announces $775m of Weapons in New Ukraine Package
  • Kremlin May Delay Annexation Moves as Invasion Progress Slows
  • War-Hit Ukraine Atomic Plant Poses Risks to Europe’s Energy Grid
  • NATO Races to Counter Russia’s Threat in Europe’s Weak Spot

On the Ground

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is approaching the six-month mark, and the past week saw minimal changes in territorial control along the front line in the Donbas. Moscow’s forces shelled civil and military infrastructure in the areas of Bilopilla and Krasnopilla in the northern Sumy region, Ukraine’s armed forces general staff said in an update. In the Slobozhansky direction, Russia is conducting combat operations with the aim of holding the occupied areas and preventing a counteroffensive, and in some places is trying to improve the tactical position. Russia continued to bombard the Kharkiv region with barrel and rocket artillery in roughly ten settlements. 

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(All times CET)

Battle Conditions Mostly at a Standstill, UK Says (8:20 a.m.)

Frequent explosions behind Russia’s lines, including in Crimea, “are probably stressing Russian logistics and air basing in the south,” the UK defense department said. 

Conditions for now are mostly at a standstill, the UK said on Twitter. 

Gazprom to Shut Pipeline for Three Days in New Shock to Europe (8:25 p.m.)

Gazprom PJSC will stop delivering natural gas to Europe through its main pipeline for three days, further squeezing energy supplies just as Germany is trying to build up stocks for the winter.

European benchmark futures soared as much as 9% after the Russian producer said it won’t ship any gas to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline from Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 because of maintenance. The work will involve the only functioning turbine that can pump gas into the link.

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The European gas market has been on edge for months as Russia progressively cut deliveries through the pipeline, most recently to just 20% of capacity. Gazprom has cited issues with turbines, but European politicians insist the curbs are politically motivated as Russia retaliates against sanctions imposed after it invaded Ukraine.

U.S. to Supply Ukraine $775 Million in Drones, Humvees, Artillery (8:06 p.m.)

The US will supply Ukraine 50 armed Humvees and 40 mine-clearance vehicles along with Howitzers, drones and other weaponry as part of a $775 million package of military assistance, the Pentagon said. With the latest package, the US will have committed close to $11 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.

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The latest assistance will include more HIMARS rocket systems, 16 105mm Howitzers and 36,000 shells, 15 Scan Eagle drones for reconnaissance, and more air-to-ground anti-radar missiles, the official said. 

“As President Biden has made clear, we will support Ukraine as they defend their democracy for as long as it takes,” the Pentagon said in a statement. The US “will continue to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities to meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements.”

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Macron, Putin Hold Call to Discuss Nuclear Inspector Visit (5:59 p.m.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who initiated the call, the Kremlin said in a statement.

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Putin said Russia is ready to assist an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Putin warned of the risk of a “large-scale catastrophe” at the plant, which Russian troops seized in March.

Macron stressed concern about the risks to nuclear safety and security of the power station, voicing support for sending an IAEA mission to the site, according to a readout from Paris.

Putin’s War in Ukraine at a Standstill, Western Officials Say (4:35 p.m.)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is at a near-operational standstill, Western officials said.

With both sides more conscious that they face a marathon rather than a sprint in a war already close to six months old, the tempo of the conflict has slowed, the officials said on condition of anonymity. They said the question now is whether Ukraine can generate a credible counter attack in the fall.

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The assessment comes after a period in which officials in Kyiv had been talking up the possibility of an imminent counter offensive to retake Kherson, a river port city of some 290,000 that Russian forces captured as they swept through the south of the country at the start of the war.

Kremlin May Delay Annexation Votes as Advance Stalls (4:14 p.m.)

The Kremlin is considering the possibility of putting off votes to annex territories it’s taken in southern and eastern Ukraine as its military advances in the regions have stalled, a potential setback to Russia’s drive to cement its gains.

The referendums, originally targeted for next month, may be held as late as December or January because Russian troops haven’t yet been able to take full control of the areas the Kremlin seeks to claim as its own, according to people familiar with the discussions. 

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UN’s Guterres Hails Rising Grain Export Volumes (3:17 p.m.)

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UN Director-General Antonio Guterres visited Odesa and hailed progress of the safe-transit agreement that’s seen Ukraine export some 600,000 tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs in the past month from three ports. 

“Twenty-five ships have departed from Odesa and other Ukrainian ports loaded with grain and other food supplies — with more on their way,” Guterres said. The rising export volumes have started to alleviate global food shortages, including in drought-struck parts of Africa which will soon take delivery of the first wheat cargo out of Ukraine under the UN’s World Food Program.

War-Hit Atomic Plant Poses Risk of Leaving Europe in the Dark (12:41 p.m.)

Diplomats concerned about an atomic accident in Ukraine should also turn their attention to a larger and looming danger, according to engineers who study critical infrastructure.

Already only two of six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant are operating, potentially leaving Ukraine’s electricity grid facing collapse this winter, with the crisis spilling into neighboring European Union energy markets. 

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